Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday jumped over NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s remarks a day earlier, suggesting a tweak of the controversial farm laws enacted last September by removing the controversial portions.
He said the Modi government was willing to reconsider the areas that seemed problematic to Pawar and the farmers who have been agitating at Delhi’s borders for over eight months, since last November.
Pawar, 80, a former Union Agriculture Minister himself, was quoted by Doordarshan as saying that certain amendments could be made to the three farm laws, instead of rejecting them in their entirety, He advocated consideration of the parts of the contentions of the farmers.
There is, however, no clarity from Pawar, since his Nationalist Congress Party had gone on record in February demanding repeal of all three farm laws in totality. Earlier in January, Pawar had himself criticised the laws in series of tweets, saying that these would adversely affect the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and weaken the country’s mandi system for the wholesale marketing of foodgrains.
The three disputed laws are: The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
“I welcome this statement of the former agriculture minister. I’d like to tell him that the Central government agrees with him. We have discussed this with the farmer unions 11 times”, Tomar was quoted telling ANI news agency on Friday.
“The Central government hopes this matter will be resolved through discussions and this agitation ends and all farmers return to their homes. The government of India is willing to reconsider with an open mind the issues that seem problematic”, he said.
Meanwhile, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, which is spearheading the farmers’ protest at Delhi’s borders, said Pawar seems to have been misled on the issue as he was entirely with the farmers that the three laws would destroy the farmers and may even lead to the abolition of procurement for the food security of the millions.
In a statement, it also accused the Uttar Pradesh Police of a partisan stand in the clashes of the farmers with a group of the BJP anti-social elements at the Ghazipur UP gate. It alleged that police were booking the farmers and refusing to register the complaint of the protesting farmers.
The Punjab farm unions have given an ultimatum to the state government to ensure regular electricity supply, as the farmers are not getting power for 14 hours a day.\
The Morcha also criticised the Haryana Chief Minister’s baseless statements against the farmers’ movement, saying they are ‘unacceptable’. In a statement, it said: “It is very clear from the beginning of this movement, even before protesters from different states reached Delhi, that it is the Haryana BJP-JJP government that has been against farmers, has undignified farmers in numerous ways instead of respecting them and their rights, and has been trying to somehow end the protests”.